Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Provence:Sunday Lunch at Le Vivier- Isle sur la Sorgue

I was drawn to L'isle sur la Sorgue for its  picturesque waterways which weave through the city. It is known as the Venice of Provence and quiet famous for its antique market on Sunday afternoons. I planned to stroll through the town and maybe find a nice place near the water to have a light lunch on our way from Tavel to Les Baux de Provence.  Little did I know I was going to find the lunch of a lifetime. Le Vivier is located on the outer edge of town away from the other cafes and the market on a road leading us out of town. It is tucked back in what looks like an office building, but once you enter, you know you have arrived. The decor seems ripped from a restaurant in Manhattan or Paris, but with a playful welcoming touch. Orange water glasses and bowls with playful goldfish highlight the stark white tables. The patio was our destination. Overhanging one of the famous waterways, it gives a cool breeze and peaceful backdrop to an epic lunch.

The menu was a pre-fix festival menu for what was the french version of Mother's Day. We began with champagne. The appetizers arrived looking like an artistic creation. They included, duck tartar served on a house made cracker, a broth of brine, kelp and seafood, a delicious deep fried head cheese, and a cheese puff served on top of a raspberry jam. We worked our way through these treats as we admired the french families out for their Sunday lunch. Each family was there to eat; even the children were diving into these amazing gourmet foods that I would have turned my nose up at as a kid. What a way to acquire an appetite!

The next course was a fois gras mouse served with a salad, toast points and the most beautiful terrine I saw in France. Wrapped in spring onions it was a fantastic blend of fois gras and sweetbreads that melted in your mouth.

The third course was a red fish served sauteed over large Provençal beans with cockles and a seafood broth.

The main course, (yes there was another course), was an herb crusted rack of lamb. The meat melted off the bone and the herb crust added just the right amount of crunch and flavor. It was served with a beautiful pair of stuffed squash blossoms.

Finally our dessert plate featured a strawberry tart with a house made strawberry smoothie and homemade ice cream. I could not think of a more beautiful or refreshingly light way to end a large meal.

Our meal lasted about three hours. The service and owners were so friendly and accommodating. They know the food is good, but they want you to know that too. It was nice to sit back and enjoy not only the taste but the look of each dish. They gave you enough time relax (and drink your wine) between courses. It was nice to experience the true feel of a lengthy french family lunch.

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